When Sundance Channel acquired the French-language zombie series The Returned, network president Sarah Barnett was concerned about how viewers might react. Not about the subject matter — the show came with high critical acclaim, and the success of The Walking Dead proved that audiences could stomach undead antics.
You were maybe expecting monsters on Halloween? Less than a week after NBC so disastrously attempted to "re-imagine" Dracula, cable's Sundance Channel scores again — in a year that has already given us the exceptional Top of the Lake and Rectify — by subtly yet audaciously flipping the zombie thriller in the eight-part French import The Returned (with English subtitles). In this quietly creepy and profoundly unsettling supernatural mystery (Thursday, 9/8c), the undead are portrayed not as Walking Dead-style flesh-eaters but as deeply and unmistakably flesh-and-blood human.